Disgraced Education Ministry Official Still on Payroll, Colleagues Say

Disgraced Education Ministry official Kry Seang Long—who was arrested for sexually assaulting his interpreter in South Korea in May—is still employed at the ministry, officials said this week.

In a statement on June 23, the ministry said that Mr. Seang Long had been removed as director of its vocational orientation department, but failed to specify whether he had been expelled from the ministry altogether or simply reassigned.

Education Ministry official Kry Seang Long poses beneath a trellis while in Seoul for the 2016 Asean+3 HRD Forum in May, in a photograph posted to Mr. Seang Long’s Facebook account.
Education Ministry official Kry Seang Long poses beneath a trellis while in Seoul for the 2016 Asean+3 HRD Forum in May, in a photograph posted to Mr. Seang Long’s Facebook account.

On Monday, however, two ministry officials, who both requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case, confirmed that Mr. Seang Long was still in the ministry’s employ.

“After being removed from [his] position, he submitted a letter requesting three months of leave,” said one official in an online message.

“He is still a civil servant” at the ministry, the official added.

“He is still an education official,” said the second, adding that Mr. Seang Long “has not shown up at the ministry since his return from Korea.”

Reached on Tuesday, the director of the ministry’s administration department, Han Divin, declined to answer questions about Mr. Seang Long’s employment, referring questions to ministry spokesman Ros Salin.

Mr. Salin also refused to answer questions about the case. “What we have done is according to the law,” he said, before hanging up on a reporter.

Mr. Seang Long was arrested in Seoul on May 26 for sexually assaulting his Korean interpreter after representing Cambodia at the 2016 Asean+3 HRD Forum, South Korean police confirmed last month.

The Education Ministry then paid more than $12,000 in fines and legal fees to secure his release from a detention center in Seoul on June 8, according to a letter from Cambodia’s ambassador to South Korea, Long Dimanche, to Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn.

But the Education Ministry did not publicly acknowledge the case until June 23—the day an article about the arrest was published in The Cambodia Daily—claiming that Mr. Seang Long had been made to repay the funds and stripped of his position as department director.

“The ministry’s disciplinary council already took administrative measures…to remove him from his position,” the statement said.

The next day, the ministry issued another statement responding to public criticism of its handling of the case, clarifying that Mr. Seang Long was suspended upon returning from Seoul on June 10 and removed as department director four days later.

The ministry also accused critics of hypocrisy and cowardice for their failure to similarly “criticize or take measures against their political leader, who is involved in a sex scandal”—an apparent reference to deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is being investigated over an alleged extramarital affair.

Opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua said on Tuesday that Mr. Seang Long had “brought shame” to the Education Ministry, which in turn was risking its credibility by keeping him on the payroll.

“If he reappears in the system, he will not be able to hide,” Ms. Sochua said.

“There are good people in the ministry, people with principles. I hope the minister will not cover up his mistakes.”

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, widely hailed as a reformer, has been silent on the case.

Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said in an email that he was not surprised that Mr. Seang Long had not been fired outright.

He said there had been “numerous cases where public officials were identified to have committed some forms of misconducts or violating some laws and policies but [were] transferred to other departments/institutions, demoted and in some cases even get promoted at a later stage.”

“So if this is the case, it is not new,” he said.

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